Malaysian man wins landmark challenge against Muslim gay sex ban

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02/26/2021

The Federal Court of Malaysia has ruled that the state of Selangor has no power to uphold a shariah law that declares it an offense to engage in same-sex intercourse. This decision came as a response to an applicant seeking to block Section 28 of Selangor’s Shariah criminal law. As Human Rights Watch reports, the case arises from a 2018 raid on a private residence in Selangor, in which state religious enforcement officials arrested 11 men on charges of “attempting” to have sex. In November 2019, a court convicted five of them and sentenced them to fines, imprisonment, and six strokes of the cane each. One of the men appealed the decision and filed two separate challenges in civil courts to ultimately challenge the validity and constitutionality of the Section 28 provision that was used to charge him. According to Neela Ghoshal, associate director of the LGBT Rights Program at Human Rights Watch, “the ruling leaves intact a federal statute criminalizing same-sex relations”, but “it does bring relief to those who have faced persecution from religious enforcement agencies enforcing such state laws”.

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